Photo by Nancy Nichols


French Fry-Day: In-N-Out Burger

The results of this taste test are different than expected.

I don’t eat much fast food. Perhaps my years as a food critic are to blame. If you count calories, you reserve them for your job. I’m not trying to ride a white high horse here, that is how I organized my life. Plus, I find most fast food to be evil. It’s riddle with hidden sugars and trans fat and high salt content. But that is a topic for another time.

My guiltiest eating pleasure is a double-double animal-style burger at In-N-Out Burger. The urge hits me at least four times a year. Recently I gave into such an impulse and found myself in the drive-thru at the location just north of Beltline on the east side of the Tollroad. I quit ordering fries at In-N-Out years ago. I always found them to be flabby and soggy. But what a brilliant opportunity knocked at my brain as I waited behind a shiny black Jeep Patriot. I’ll have fries and write about them. I just love it when work and play join forces and take control of your decision making.

And what a glorious reward I received that afternoon. Obviously the fry goddesses were on my side. The three orders that were passed to me were just out of the fryer. I conducted my taste test as I raced the ten minutes to my house. By the time I hit Preston and Beltline, one order was nestled in my stomach. Each bite had been worth twice the calories. Not only were the skinny fries hot, they were crisp and rigid. The potato inside was warm and fluffy. I handed my burger to a beggar on the corner and headed home.

What a difference five minutes makes. By the time I entered my kitchen and pulled out a plate, the fries were limp and soggy. This is the reason I prefer thicker fries—they travel better. If you are not going to eat in a fast food restaurant, then don’t order fries. Unless they are filled with chemicals to keep them hard. But that is a discussion for another time.


  • Teresa Gubbins

    Had not really contemplated the travel quotient on skinny fries vs thicker fries. Every new chapter in this spectacular series offers some kind of enlightenment.

    • NancyNichols

      I am very scientific in my research. Calories are too expensive to treat lightly.

  • Mavdog

    The In-N-Out fries are a conundrum. They take such care to use a specific type of potato (like McD does also), they don’t freeze the potato but only use fresh potatoes, and they slice the potatoes in each store before frying them.

    And yet those In-N-Out fries are just meh.

    I like their burgers, the patty is well seasoned and those tomatoes and onions are really, really flavorful. I’ve learned to ask for the fries to be “extra crispy” which means they fry them longer. Makes all the difference in the world, but they are still not as good as other fries out there…

    • NancyNichols

      I’m with you all of the way. they just are not great. this was an unusual experience. Thanks so much. Where do you like??

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      • Mavdog

        Making good french fries isn’t too difficult, which is why the In-N-Out mediocrity is so perplexing.
        Among burger joints Five Guys does a great job as does Mooyah. Hopdoddy are very good, too. Rodeo Goat is good but mostly for what they put on the,.
        Neighborhood Services are consistent, 20 Feet are special.
        Just don’t put sweet potato fries in front of me.

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  • Mark

    All you have to do is order your fries well done at In N Out. You’re welcome.

    • NancyNichols

      I hear you. However, when I am judging a place, I ask for what is on the menu.

  • Lynda Wells LaRocca Klempel

    Nancy, I saw the Burger House Fry review, then looked at the other places you have mentioned for fries. Regarding In N Out Burger-one secret is to ask them to double fry them. Most fast food restaurants do this but I found out that In N Out Burger does not. So the double frying helps some, but still not enough to be a great fry. What’s funny is how their food seems to taste different in California.
    One other side note – I like to go to Raising Canes – they have crinkle cut fries. If you want to take the meal home-you need to leave the styrofoam container open so the fries don’t get soggy from the moist chicken fingers. This method may help with all fast food restaurants–don’t leave the bag or container closed during the ride home or eat all the fries on the way home! Ha!

  • Aardvark

    You can also order your fries well done if you like them a little crispier.